A voided check is a check with the word “void” written across the front, which indicates that it shouldn't be accepted for payment. The check can still be used to get the information needed for electronic payments.
Learn more about how voided checks work.
Definition and Example of a Voided Check
A voided check has the word "void" written across the front. It's typically written in large letters so there's no chance of it accidentally being used.
Voiding a check “disables” the check so that it can't be used as a blank check. In other words, a thief who steals a voided check can’t make the check out to himself, enter a large amount, and sign it.
For example, if your company's payroll department needs a check from you to set up direct deposit, you can provide a voided check. Then you know would that no one would be able to alter the check and spend it, because it has been voided.
How a Voided Check Works
A voided check is most often used to provide banking information so that someone can set up an electronic link with your bank account. They ask for a voided check because it has several details about your bank and your account printed on it:
- Where you bank (or which credit union you use)
- Your bank account number
- A code that identifies your bank (called a "routing number")
Those numbers printed in magnetic ink at the bottom of your check provide everything needed to deposit or withdraw funds. Here are a few situations where you might need to void a check:
- Direct deposit: If your employer pays you electronically, it will need your account information to get the money to the right place. A voided check is a simple way for the employer to get this information and ensure that it's correct.
- Setting up payments: If you want to stop writing checks for expenses such as rent, mortgage, and insurance, you might need to provide a voided check to set up automatic electronic payments. Depending on how you set things up, the funds will be deducted from your account automatically each month (if you sign an agreement authorizing automatic payments), or you’ll have to set up each payment yourself.
- Mistakes: If you make an error while filling out a check (wrong payee or amount, for example), void or destroy it. You're not going to use it for anything, and a partially filled-out check is risky to keep around.
Requirements for a Voided Check
Voiding a check is easy: Grab a check out of your checkbook, and write “void” across the front. Write with well-spaced letters that are tall and wide enough to cover the whole face of the check without obscuring the banking information at the bottom. Use a dark pen or marker (the thicker, the better). You want to make it difficult for thieves to erase or cover your void mark. Otherwise, they'll have a blank check.
You don’t need to sign the check or enter any other information.
When you provide a voided check, the recipient copies your banking information from it and enters it into their systems. Ideally, they’ll then shred the check so that nobody else can get their hands on that information.
Most companies don’t even need an original; a copy of a voided check is good enough.
Alternatives to a Voided Check
A check (or an image of one) might not be the only way to set up electronic payments. Presumably, companies ask for a printed document because:
- It reduces the chances of error
- It reduces the chances of fraud
Consumers often provide their own routing and account numbers online without any problem, so voided checks are required less frequently. For example, online banks allow you to link external accounts by typing in those details yourself. Billers, such as utility companies, also accept payments by e-check when customers input their checking account information. Some businesses even take payments over the phone, allowing customers to provide the information orally.
If you don’t have a check to void in your possession, there are several other options:
- Ask your bank for a counter check, which is a check printed on demand by a branch. Banks typically charge a small fee for counter checks.
- See whether a preprinted deposit slip for a checking or savings account is acceptable.
- Find out whether a letter from your bank is acceptable.
- A voided check has the word “void” written across the front.
- It can be used to get the information needed for electronic payments.
- Many companies allow you to provide your banking details rather than submitting a voided check.